One Patient’s Mission to Shatter Psych Ward Stigmas

A range of treatments, including inpatient stays, helped a young woman regain control of her life. By sharing her experience, she hopes to reach others in need.

When you hear the term “psych ward,” what first comes to mind?

Even if you’re pretty open-minded, you probably don’t picture me. I’m a composed young woman with perky, brown curls for days. I’m soft-spoken and you wouldn’t pick me out from a crowd.  more

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A Psych Ward Doctor On Treating Patients On The Brink Of Suicide

“They’re playing with one of the big existential issues for all of us, which is death,” says Dr. Stuart Beck of Mass General.

On a recent Monday, clinical staff at Massachusetts General Hospital had gathered with a patient as she prepared for discharge from the psychiatric ward. After nearly everyone had said their goodbyes, the patient turned to Dr. Stuart Beck, the soft-spoken psychiatrist who runs the ward.

“Hey you, Dr. Beck,” the patient blurted out. “You got anything to tell me?”

The Boston hospital has 1,011 beds, only 24 of which are reserved for the psychiatric ward. Vacancies on the ward are rapidly filled, and Beck and his staff are always busy, moving from one bed to the next as they make decisions about medications, treatment plans and whether it’s safe enough to let a particular patient go. Still, Beck tries to build a connection with his patients and uncover the deeper issues that brought them to his ward.  more

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Hiding my mental illness from my Asian family almost killed me

The silent shame of having a mental illness in a Chinese family.

“Don’t you dare go back to that doctor,” my mother growled into the phone. “He’ll put ‘bipolar’ on your record and then you’ll never be able to get a job.”

I nodded into the receiver. “Okay.”

I never went back. Seven years later, I woke up in a psych ward.

Growing up, I thought I was emotionally healthy. I had a large Chinese family on my mother’s side (my father is white). We were a lively, loud, tight-knit group consisting of around 20 blood relatives and 3 million non-blood relatives. Everyone knew each other’s business. Distant family members inquired about school, commented on my weight, and asked if I had a boyfriend. The only time it was “quiet” was when the Mahjong table came out and the only noise you’d hear was the click-clacking of tiles.  more

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Against Their Will: Locked away in a mental hospital after voluntarily seeking help

An 11-year-old boy was locked in a mental hospital for a week after his mother took him there voluntarily seeking help. He’s not alone.

A note to viewers & readers

The accounts of people shared here should not dissuade individuals from getting mental health help. But, too often, experts say that for-profit, private facilities do not choose the “least restrictive appropriate setting” for therapy, as mandated by current law, and instead default to locking up people in more expensive inpatient care when it’s not necessary.
You can get help without getting locked up. Do your homework, and know your rights.

Imagine walking into a mental health facility voluntarily because you want help.

Then, the door locks behind you. You’re told you can’t leave. Stripped of your clothes, given a new bed. You have no idea when you’ll see your family again.

Now imagine you are 11 years old.  more

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Living in a Mental Hospital: Your Stories

Joy in a Mental Hospital

My experience after checking myself in at a mental hospital was almost entirely positive. I had been diagnosed as bipolar at 25. At the time, I was fresh out of a top-10 law school, but I had managed to endanger my career through a series of poor decisions.

After a brief round of treatment with lithium, Prozac, and Tegretol, I decided that sanity was overrated. I quit all my meds and slipped into a five-year period of uncontrolled mania. It was, in all honesty, the happiest time of my life.

I was completely manic (and happy) for five years of marriages, near marriages, and one-night stands. I slept one to two hours a day and salsa danced until five in the morning.  more

 

Girl, Interrupted – Ice cream parlor scene

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One Patient’s Mission to Shatter Psych Ward Stigmas

A range of treatments, including inpatient stays, helped a young woman regain control of her life. By sharing her experience, she hopes to reach others in need.

When you hear the term “psych ward,” what first comes to mind?

Even if you’re pretty open-minded, you probably don’t picture me. I’m a composed young woman with perky, brown curls for days. I’m soft-spoken and you wouldn’t pick me out from a crowd.  more

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MY LOVELY WIFE IN THE PSYCH WARD

We met at 18. We wed at 24. At 27, I checked my wife into a psych ward—for the first time. How mental illness re-shapes a marriage.

The first time I saw my wife walking around the Georgetown campus I shouted out “Buongiorno Principessa!” like a buffoon. She was Italian, radiant, way out of my league, but I was fearless and almost immediately in love. We lived in the same freshman dorm. She had a smile bello come il sole—I learned some Italian immediately to impress her—and within a month we were a couple. She’d stop by my room to wake me up if I was oversleeping class; I taped roses to her door. Giulia had a perfect GPA; I had a mohawk and a Sector 9 longboard. We were both blown away by how amazing it feels to love someone and be loved back.  more

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‘Psych wards’ aren’t what you think. I’ve seen lives saved there.

The “psych ward” remains among the most stigmatized places in modern medicine. Despite more-accepting public attitudes toward mental-health care, inpatient psychiatric units continue to evoke frightening images of patients strapped to beds, electroconvulsive therapy and rooms with padded walls.  more

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4 Things Nobody Tells You About Being Admitted To A Psych Ward

The 1st rule of Mental Hospital Club is nobody feels comfortable asking about Mental Hospital Club.

People tend to think that what they see in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest — padded walls, straight jackets handed out like electric shock treatments — is what it’s like being in a psych ward, but in reality, the two psychiatric hospitals I’ve been in for depression, OCD and an eating disorder have been much less exciting than that.  more

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16 Things you miss when you’re on a psych ward

I checked myself back into the hospital last week. It was a last resort kind of thing, and I was feeling extremely depressed and suicidal. I had self harmed though not badly (if there’s such a thing as wimpy self harm, I have done it) and after a med change and some consultation on my migraines, I’m doing much better. However, here are a few things you miss when you’re in a psych ward.

  1. Music. A radio is available to patients normally, but if you like anything that wouldn’t be played on a radio, you are out of luck.  more
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